Beethoven Sketch Books by By J. S. Shedlock, B.A. On Musical Time (1892 – 1895)

XI) – MUSICAL TIME July 1, 1894

BEETHOVEN’S SKETCH BOOKS.
By J. S. Shedlock, B.A. second series (continued).
No. III.—THE CHORAL SYMPHONY

Beethoven made many Sketches for his Op- 125, and Nottebohm in his “Zweite Beethoveniana” devotes a long chapter to them. He was far from exhausting the minev however, as seems evident from those we now present to our readers, which, with the exception of one or two—quoted from Nottebohm for the sake of the context—are here printed for the first time. In a Sketch Book of fifty-five sheets, numered O 36 in the Berlin Library, devoted principally to the choral, we come across:—

As usual, Beethoven seems to see a long way ahead, for we have—

the approach to the Coda of the first movement, but not, as yet, possessing the intensity of rhythm of the printed passage. Suddenly we meet with the following, standing alone on the first two staves of a page

(which certainly bears relationship to the Agnus Dei of the Second Mass), followed by a canonic working of the figure mentioned above—

All of a sudden we find the master at work on the slow movement

Soon afterwards comes-

underneath which is written in pencil, “Vor der Freude.” But of his plans with regard to a Finale we shall soon again have an opportunity of speaking. Beethoven now returns to the first moveihent. Above a sketch of the opening bars we find, with the notes in pencil and the three strokes in ink—

This opening much occupied his thoughts. In another place he wrote over the same notes with two strokes: “Anfangs vielleicht auch Triolen” Such small details are the sign of a great master.  But soon he seeins to be looking ahead, and forming plans for the other movements. We have—

Waht this was meant for it is difficult to say – perhaps for the slow movement. The following, if compared with the opening bars of the Adagio, is interesting –

Next we have –

and then—

All these are on the same page, and from them we learn how Beethoven seemed to have visions more or less distinct of the various movements. Later on, after many sketches for the first movement, we get another glimpse of the Adagio—

The opening of the above recalls the theme of the slow movement of the Sonate Path6tique (Op. 13), but the reminiscence was probably an unconscious one. The melodic progression of the second bar and three-quarters of the third is, anyhow, common to both themes. Nottebohm, in his “ Zweite Beethoveniana” (p. 177), quotes a sketch, from some loose leaves, of the Adagio of the Ninth Symphony, commencing thus—

This begins in the satne way as our example, but the bars which follow conclusively show that Beethoven was occupied with the slow movement of the Choral. The above sketch is in pencil; underneath it we have the following interesting bars in ink—

Then the master seems to be uncertain. There is a sketch for an Introductio in G minor, but, underneath, the above theme with the following remark: “Variationen oder erster Theil in D moll”. Further, on the sam page, a scheme for an “Alla marcia”; also the familiar phrase –

marked alla Menuetto. Here the opening quaver and tie are in pencil, but the rest of the sketch is in ink. We soon come to a sketch of the Scherzof approaching closely to the printed version, and then to—

But suddenly there comes a change over the spirit of the composer’s dream. We have—

with further sketches and words, returns to the slow movement—

and we see foreshadowings of the Coda—

The end, indeed, was much in his thoughts; in another place we find—

and on the previous page, before some notes, he writes: ” Zum Ende des Adagios.” The following sketches are well worth quoting—

Then Beethoven returns to the Scherzo. It seems as if he would never get the theme in to proper shape. Here is another attempt—

and we catch a glimpse of the Trio—

But in another book (W. 30) the same is written out, with the last two bars thus—

At the last we have –

with a wildly written Anfang under it. At the top of one page Beethoven has written in pencil: “Morgen Stund hat Gold im Mund” (Morning hours, golden hours). An excellent proverb for composers who love to burn the midnight oil. Later on, after some sketches for ’a vocal Finale, we have—

The following pathetic chords—

have the figures 1000 written over them, often used by Beethoven, and evidently some special private mark of his own. Then follow workings for the Adagio—

A page with sketches for a vocal Finale is, however, followed by—

Beethoven seems, as yet, not to have made up his mind. In another Sketch Book (U. 20) we find—

How undecided the composer seems to have been! Even in a very late Sketch Book written with pencil), devoted entirely to the Choral Symphony, after long workings for the vocal part, we find, just at the end—

part of a sketch for a Finale instromentale. Under some sketches for the Adagio theme there is written:— “Oder gleich ip g der 3/4 sehr moderat.” This hinting at keys while, as yet, the principal theme was in embryonic form, is very remarkable. Again we plunge suddenly into sketches for the vocal music. The following—

shows an approach to the printed version, but has not its mystic state of expectancy. Here is an interesting specimen of the master “making” music—

then, again, in a passage marked “ meilleur,” we have—

Here are sketches for the Finale:—

In the printed version, the reminiscence of the heavenly melody of the Adagio is still further shortened. In the top margin of one page of the Sketch Book we find— Was Beethoven counting bars or money ? In our first article of this series we omitted to state that the sketch of the “Walzer pour le Clavier” refers to the “ Ecossaise,” published in the Breitkopf and Härtel “Beethoven Supplement” (Series 25, “No. 305, p. 366), with date 1825.

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